I do pro bono consulting for a non profit http://bonnieclac.org
, which helps (mainly low income) people with credit issues repair their credit issues, become educated in the fundamentals of household financial management and navigate the process of buying a new or reliable used car. During the six to eighteen months of credit counseling and education, we often loan cars to our clients.
We have had two interactions with the Cash for Clunkers program. First we had some clients ready to buy cars who had their own (usually very old, and marginally reliable) cars, which qualified as trade ins under the Cash for Clunkers program. The problem was that the rules say you the car you are giving up must be registered in your name and insured in your name for 12 months prior to trading it. In New Hampshire, where we are based, auto insurance is not mandatory and many of our clients can't afford it.
One of New Hampshire's senators is a crusty old nasty dinosaur (Judd Gregg) the other is lovely (Jean Shaheen). A call to Senator Shaheen and New Hampshire got an exemption for the insurance rule.
We have also asked for a much tougher rule amendment. Some of the cars that are being surrendered in the program would be serviceable as loaner cars for clients still undergoing counseling and education. But it does not appear that we are going to be able to get an exception to save some of those cars from having their engines destroyed. The senators and congressmen who supported the program are clearly very concerned that any hint of fraud could undermine the program and their credibility. So, while they recognize ours is a worthy cause, rules is rules in this case.
As an aside, I was tempted to trade in one of my cars under Cash for Clunkers: a 1998 Volvo with 192,000 miles on it, but it's too fuel efficient to qualify!